Smart devices are continuing the delightful trend of becoming more affordable and capable every year. 2021 is shaping up to be an excellent year to add new smart features to your home, especially if you’ve been eyeing a specific smart capability.
But for Apple fans and anyone who would prefer to control their smart devices on one central app – the Home app – it’s important to make sure that any new smart devices you buy are HomeKit compatible.
We’re making it easy with a list of the top products to consider.
A smart plug turns almost anything you plug into it into a smart device, allowing you to set schedules for turning it on or off, controlling it with voice commands, and even seeing how much electricity it’s using throughout the day. This Wemo mini plug is one of the best options. It’s very effective, compatible with all voice assistants, and small enough that it won’t hamper the use of nearby outlets when you plug it in (something that’s not true of all smart plugs).
However, smart plugs are only useful if you have specific devices that plug into outlets that benefit from smart control. That includes plug-in lamps, instant-start coffeemakers, fans, humidifiers, and so on. If you don’t have many plug-in devices to control this way, you may be more interested in other options.
It’s hard to know just how useful a smart lock can be until you actually get one. These intelligent August locks allow you to lock or unlock your home from an app anywhere you are and see the door’s current status at any time. They can also automatically unlock when your personal phone draws near and then auto-lock when you leave again. You can even create temporary passes for guests, housecleaners, or petsitters to download onto their phones and use for access at specific times from day to day.
If you’re curious, you can also check the activity feed to see exactly when your home has been accessed! You can even add a keypad for alternative entry options if you prefer.
The HomePod mini introduced a much smaller HomePod speaker at a much, much lower price for Apple fans. The speaker can sense and interact with nearby iPhones, allowing for easy passing of music/calls without interrupting your flow – and of course, it works with all Siri commands as well, allowing you to control the other smart devices in your house with just a few words.
The Intercom feature even lets you broadcast messages to Apple devices throughout your house for a whole-family message. That makes the mini a great personal speaker to keep at your desk – although it’s most valuable if you don’t already have a smart speaker.
Ecobee’s revamped smart thermostat, now cleverly called SmartThermostat, is one of the best in the business. In addition to all the normal app-based controls for setting temperatures and schedules, it also includes built-in Alexa, which means you don’t need an Echo to give Alexa commands or even play music straight from the thermostat. The informative screen is also great for checking on weather conditions and humidity as well as temperature.
Like other smart thermostats, the SmartThermostat can sense when there’s an activity in the house and adjust temperature cycles accordingly. However, unlike other options, Ecobee’s version comes with a free satellite sensor that you can set up where you want, which is perfect if your thermostat is far from your living room or other areas where people tend to congregate.
You don’t need to choose a smart plug to control your lights. If there’s nothing to plug in, you can still use smart bulbs! These long-lasting LED bulbs are designed to screw into traditional incandescent sockets but can be controlled and scheduled from the Home app. You can also adjust the color to anything you want (out of around 16 million color options) and change the “color temperature” to make the light as warm as you want or mimic daylight – something that not all smart bulbs offer.
Think of the capabilities of a smart lock but transferred to your garage door, and you’ll have a good idea of what this Meross device is all about. It doesn’t replace your garage door mechanism, though, simply wires in and allows you to control it from your app or with voice commands. No extra hub is required, no monthly fees are needed, and you can always, always be sure that you shut the garage door after you’ve left home.
There are also additional notifications you can use to make sure the garage door is set just how you want it. The only caveat is that this opener doesn’t work with particularly old garage doors and may not be compatible with every model. Meross has a compatibility webpage you can check for more information.